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OnBaseMachine
10-03-2010, 12:53 AM
Lately I've become intrigued by the SwStr% (swinging strike %) stat on Fangraphs. I think it's a pretty good indication of how good a pitchers stuff is.

Let's take a look at the SwStr% of some of the Reds young starters.

Edinson Volquez - 13.0 SwStr%
Johnny Cueto - 9.1 SwStr%
Homer Bailey - 8.2 SwStr% (before today's start)
Travis Wood - 7.6 SwStr%
Mike Leake - 7.6 SwStr%

If Volquez had enough innings to qualify, his 13.0 SwStr% would be the best in baseball among starting pitchers. Francisco Liriano is first at 12.4%. Johnny Cueto ranks 32nd among starters. His SwStr% is just slightly below that of the following pitchers: Adam Wainwright (9.5), Justin Verlander (9.3), and Johan Santana (9.2). Homer Bailey's 8.2 SwStr% is right on par with Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe, and Cliff Lee. Travis Wood and Mike Leake are right there with Zack Greinke and Matt Garza.

Bronson is down the list at 6.8% with John Lackey and Fausto Carmona.

Btw, Aroldis Chapman's SwStr% is a ridiculous 15.6%.

This just shows how filthy Volquez's stuff is. I think his stuff is as good as any starters in baseball. IMO, the only thing separating him from guys like Felix Hernandez and other elite starters in consistent command/control. He's still a good starter despite the shaky control.

Neither Leake nor Wood have extremely high SwStr% rates but both have both great movement on their pitches and induce weak contact. Well, that was the case with Leake earlier in the season. He seemed to tire out as the season progressed and he started leaving the ball out over the plate more and paid for it.
I've been impressed by every one of these young pitchers mentioned this season. I think the future of the Reds rotation is bright assuming these guys stay healthy.

Brutus
10-03-2010, 12:56 AM
Lately I've become intrigued by the SwStr% (swinging strike %) stat on Fangraphs. I think it's a pretty good indication of how good a pitchers stuff is.

Let's take a look at the SwStr% of some of the Reds young starters.

Edinson Volquez - 13.0 SwStr%
Johnny Cueto - 9.1 SwStr%
Homer Bailey - 8.2 SwStr% (before today's start)
Travis Wood - 7.6 SwStr%
Mike Leake - 7.6 SwStr%

If Volquez had enough innings to qualify, his 13.0 SwStr% would be the best in baseball among starting pitchers. Francisco Liriano is first at 12.4%. Johnny Cueto ranks 32nd among starters. His SwStr% is just slightly below that of the following pitchers: Adam Wainwright (9.5), Justin Verlander (9.3), and Johan Santana (9.2). Homer Bailey's 8.2 SwStr% is right on par with Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe, and Cliff Lee. Travis Wood and Mike Leake are right there with Zack Greinke and Matt Garza.

Bronson is down the list at 6.8% with John Lackey and Fausto Carmona.

Btw, Aroldis Chapman's SwStr% is a ridiculous 15.6%.

This just shows how filthy Volquez's stuff is. I think his stuff is as good as any starters in baseball. IMO, the only thing separating him from guys like Felix Hernandez and other elite starters in consistent command/control. He's still a good starter despite the shaky control.

Neither Leake nor Wood have extremely high SwStr% rates but both have both great movement on their pitches and induce weak contact. Well, that was the case with Leake earlier in the season. He seemed to tire out as the season progressed and he started leaving the ball out over the plate more and paid for it.
I've been impressed by every one of these young pitchers mentioned this season. I think the future of the Reds rotation is bright assuming these guys stay healthy.

Great post, OBM. I too am becoming fascinated with this stat. I think it tells us a lot about pitchers' stuff, as you said.

Volquez is dirty when he's on. Actually, even when he's not, he's hard to hit. But man when he can't find the zone, it ain't a pretty picture.

But this kind of stat is exactly why I'm intrigued by him potentially pitching Wednesday against the Phillies. He's the kind of guy that can go right at them if he's on.

Homer Bailey
10-03-2010, 01:07 AM
Is this number the percentage of pitches thrown that are swung at and missed, or percentage of swings that are swung and missed. I'm assuming the former.

*BaseClogger*
10-03-2010, 02:28 AM
I think Volquez could make for an excellent setup man in the postseason. I'm guessing Wood is the number three starting pitcher in the Philly series, but I haven't followed this closely enough to know for certain...

edit: I should read the stickies first.

Redhook
10-03-2010, 06:22 AM
Is this number the percentage of pitches thrown that are swung at and missed, or percentage of swings that are swung and missed. I'm assuming the former.

I could be wrong, but I don't think it's either. I read it as the % of swings on a pitch in the strike zone that were missed. So, any ball thrown out of the strike zone is out of this equation whether the hitter swung at it or not.

As OBM said, this is a stat that really shows how good a pitcher's stuff/movement is. When hitter's struggle to hit your pitches thrown in the strike zone, you know your stuff is good.

Good post, OBM!

RedsManRick
10-03-2010, 11:22 AM
FWIW, Baseball Prospectus did an analysis on the value of knowing swinging strike % and found that if you know a guy's strikeout rate, his swinging strike percentage doesn't really tell you anything new.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=12050

Of course, that doesn't mean they're perfectly correlated, but they are very strongly correlated, 0.84.

Edinson Volquez - 13.0 SwStr%, 9.6 K/9
Johnny Cueto - 9.1 SwStr%, 6.7 K/9
Homer Bailey - 8.4 SwStr%, 8.3 K/9
Travis Wood - 7.6 SwStr%, 7.5 K/9
Mike Leake - 7.6 SwStr%, 5.9 K/9

If it's an interesting measure of stuff, but in terms of effectiveness, if you want to know how likely a guy is to strike out players, his swinging strike percentage doesn't provide any particular insight.

Brutus
10-03-2010, 02:42 PM
FWIW, Baseball Prospectus did an analysis on the value of knowing swinging strike % and found that if you know a guy's strikeout rate, his swinging strike percentage doesn't really tell you anything new.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=12050

Of course, that doesn't mean they're perfectly correlated, but they are very strongly correlated, 0.84.

Edinson Volquez - 13.0 SwStr%, 9.6 K/9
Johnny Cueto - 9.1 SwStr%, 6.7 K/9
Homer Bailey - 8.4 SwStr%, 8.3 K/9
Travis Wood - 7.6 SwStr%, 7.5 K/9
Mike Leake - 7.6 SwStr%, 5.9 K/9

If it's an interesting measure of stuff, but in terms of effectiveness, if you want to know how likely a guy is to strike out players, his swinging strike percentage doesn't provide any particular insight.

I disagree completely.

Mike Leake is a perfect example. Most people here agree he's got terrific stuff. You look at 5.9 K/9 and you would wonder how anyone thinks that. But his 7.6 SS% sheds a new light on that subject.

I wholly disagree with the premise it doesn't provide particular insight. A lot of pitchers do work the count differently with 2 strikes, opting more for movement and pitching to contact than trying to blow by hitters. The r2 for an .84 correlation still leaves a lot of room for other factors.

RedsManRick
10-03-2010, 03:29 PM
I disagree completely.

Mike Leake is a perfect example. Most people here agree he's got terrific stuff. You look at 5.9 K/9 and you would wonder how anyone thinks that. But his 7.6 SS% sheds a new light on that subject.

I wholly disagree with the premise it doesn't provide particular insight. A lot of pitchers do work the count differently with 2 strikes, opting more for movement and pitching to contact than trying to blow by hitters. The r2 for an .84 correlation still leaves a lot of room for other factors.

Brutus, you're disagreeing with something I didn't say. I didn't say that you couldn't draw any insight from the stat. I simply said that it didn't help to predict future strikeout rates any better than the current strikeout rates do. That's simply a mathematical reality and not really something you can disagree with (anymore than that 2+2 = 4) unless you've found a flaw in BP's analysis.

Furthermore, a .84 correlation is MASSIVE. It says that 84% of all variation in strikeout rate can be described by a variation in swinging strike rate. Are there other factors? Of course there are. By definition there are, given that it is less than 1. But those other factors combine for 16% of the explanation. It's likely because a lot of them are already captured in by SwStr% already. (e.g. if you fool a guy on a change-up because of your smart sequencing, it's going to be captured in his SwStr%)


For reference, that's a greater correlation than we see on a year-to-year basis of strikeouts themselves.

Swinging strikes are also heavily correlated year-to-year. Among all pitchers with at least 80 innings as starting pitchers from 2002-09, there was a .79 correlation for swinging-strike rate, slightly above the .77 correlation for strikeout rate (SO/PA) itself.

As for Leake, I think you may have created a bit of a strawman. I doubt there's much consensus on what is included in stuff; you've basically equated stuff to movement. I think movement is a big part of "stuff", but hardly the whole story.

Personally, I don't think he's got terrific "stuff." I think he's got a lot of movement and good control. But his lack of velocity will keep him from ever posting elite strikeout numbers. For me I think SwStr% is a great indicator of stuff. That Leake can have success as a pitcher through good location and sequencing of his good, but not great stuff, is a compliment to his maturity and skill as a pitcher.

mth123
10-03-2010, 03:43 PM
Brutus, you're disagreeing with something I didn't say. I didn't say that you couldn't draw any insight from the stat. I simply said that it didn't help to predict future strikeout rates any better than the current strikeout rates do. That's simply a mathematical reality and not really something you can disagree with (anymore than that 2+2 = 4) unless you've found a flaw in BP's analysis.

Furthermore, a .84 correlation is MASSIVE. It says that 84% of all variation in strikeout rate can be described by a variation in swinging strike rate. Are there other factors? Of course there are. By definition there are, given that it is less than 1. But those other factors combine for 16% of the explanation. It's likely because a lot of them are already captured in by SwStr% already. (e.g. if you fool a guy on a change-up because of your smart sequencing, it's going to be captured in his SwStr%)


For reference, that's a greater correlation than we see on a year-to-year basis of strikeouts themselves.


As for Leake, I think you may have created a bit of a strawman. I doubt there's much consensus on what is included in stuff; you've basically equated stuff to movement. I think movement is a big part of "stuff", but hardly the whole story.

Personally, I don't think he's got terrific "stuff." I think he's got a lot of movement and good control. But his lack of velocity will keep him from ever posting elite strikeout numbers. For me I think SwStr% is a great indicator of stuff. That Leake can have success as a pitcher through good location and sequencing of his good, but not great stuff, is a compliment to his maturity and skill as a pitcher.

IMO, Leake's future is as an innings horse in the mold of Arroyo. Nothing wrong with that, but this year he hit the wall at around 75 innings. He'll need a couple years of development and babying before getting there and will never be TOR material IMO. If all the others are healthy, he should spend 2011 in AAA getting about 175 innings or so in IMO.

Brutus
10-03-2010, 03:47 PM
Brutus, you're disagreeing with something I didn't say. I didn't say that you couldn't draw any insight from the stat. I simply said that it didn't help to predict future strikeout rates any better than the current strikeout rates do. That's simply a mathematical reality and not really something you can disagree with (anymore than that 2+2 = 4) unless you've found a flaw in BP's analysis.

Furthermore, a .84 correlation is MASSIVE. It says that 84% of all variation in strikeout rate can be described by a variation in swinging strike rate. Are there other factors? Of course there are. By definition there are, given that it is less than 1. But those other factors combine for 16% of the explanation. It's likely because a lot of them are already captured in by SwStr% already. (e.g. if you fool a guy on a change-up because of your smart sequencing, it's going to be captured in his SwStr%)


For reference, that's a greater correlation than we see on a year-to-year basis of strikeouts themselves.


As for Leake, I think you may have created a bit of a strawman. I doubt there's much consensus on what is included in stuff; you've basically equated stuff to movement. I think movement is a big part of "stuff", but hardly the whole story.

Personally, I don't think he's got terrific "stuff." I think he's got a lot of movement and good control. But his lack of velocity will keep him from ever posting elite strikeout numbers. For me I think SwStr% is a great indicator of stuff. That Leake can have success as a pitcher through good location and sequencing of his good, but not great stuff, is a compliment to his maturity and skill as a pitcher.

Well first, the issue was whether or not SS% is another good factor to judge 'stuff', and not really whether or not it was an accurate predictor of K-rates. So when you responded to that, I took you to mean you were challenging the premise that it was another good tool for evaluation.

Second, a .84 correlation does not mean it's responsible for 84% of the variation. You're confusing the r with r2. The r2 of .84 (.705) is what is responsible (i.e. 70.5% of the variation).

70.5% is significant, but that's still a lot of other things that can be factoring into the equation. But the real point here is that you're admitting SS% is a better correlation than strikeouts themselves. Isn't that the point, then, of using SS% as a good indicator of stuff? That was the premise in the first place.

Third, I'm not building any strawmen. My definition of "stuff" can be velocity, movement or a combination. It's the ability to throw hard or throw with movement. Both tools are "stuff" in my opinion. I think movement is key, but there's more to movement than just vertical and horizontal break. I think being able to make your opponents swing and miss quite often is the best indicator we have of that.

I will agree with you on Leake in that I'm not sure he has a pitch he'll consistently strike batters out with. But his stuff is great in that when it's working to its potential, he rarely gets solid contact against it. To me, that's good stuff.

RedsManRick
10-03-2010, 04:07 PM
Second, a .84 correlation does not mean it's responsible for 84% of the variation. You're confusing the r with r2. The r2 of .84 (.705) is what is responsible (i.e. 70.5% of the variation).

70.5% is significant, but that's still a lot of other things that can be factoring into the equation. But the real point here is that you're admitting SS% is a better correlation than strikeouts themselves. Isn't that the point, then, of using SS% as a good indicator of stuff? That was the premise in the first place.

My bad. You're right. That was the R not the R2, which is 70.5. I'd still argue that's 70.5% is a pretty darn significant majority of the explanation.

As for my "predicting strikeouts" statement, I was simply providing the article as an input to the conversation. It was not a reply to any specific position taken earlier in the thread. I'm not quite sure what your problem is with that, but whatever.

My question is this: in what ways does good "stuff" manifest itself other than in strikeout rates and what does it tell us? Leake had a 1.24 HR/9 and .319 BABIP. On the other hand, he allowed a low 17.9 LD% and solid 1.58 GB/FB. What does it mean that he has "good stuff"?

What does assessing a guy's "stuff" outside of these more descriptive elements allow us to know about the guy? That's really my point. It's sort of like batting average. Sure, it's something, but I'm not sure what it tells us about a guy that we can't elsewhere get in a better form?

TheNext44
10-03-2010, 04:12 PM
I'm not smart enough to understand what RMR and Brutus are talking about, but for me, the only I care about this new stat is how it correlates to a pitcher's ability to get outs.

Brutus
10-03-2010, 04:23 PM
My bad. You're right. That was the R not the R2, which is 70.5. I'd still argue that's 70.5% is a pretty darn significant majority of the explanation.

As for my "predicting strikeouts" statement, I was simply providing the article as an input to the conversation. It was not a reply to any specific position taken earlier in the thread. I'm not quite sure what your problem is with that, but whatever.

My question is this: in what ways does good "stuff" manifest itself other than in strikeout rates and what does it tell us? Leake had a 1.24 HR/9 and .319 BABIP. On the other hand, he allowed a low 17.9 LD% and solid 1.58 GB/FB. What does it mean that he has "good stuff"?

What does assessing a guy's "stuff" outside of these more descriptive elements allow us to know about the guy? That's really my point. It's sort of like batting average. Sure, it's something, but I'm not sure what it tells us about a guy that we can't elsewhere get in a better form?

I'm kind of taking the scout's approach on this. When I think of stuff, I think of:

* Vertical break
* Lateral movement
* Being able to disguise pitches to look like others
* Hiding the ball
* Velocity
* Velocity differences from fastball to changeup, in some cases not changing arm slot or pitching motion (which does relate a lot to disguising pitches)

I guess for me, a lot of people think of strictly strikeout rates when they talk about missing bats. But I think other pitchers (like Leake) can miss bats even if it doesn't manifest itself as often with 2 strikes. A pitcher that constantly gets ahead with 2 strikes and then induces a lot of grounders will be nearly as successful as those that get a lot of strikeouts to begin with.

Now, I realize you're suggesting that we can see some of those things already in the form of GB%, HR rates, etc. But to me it just gives us a clearer picture. I think of it as another descriptor of a pitcher's ability.

jojo
10-03-2010, 04:42 PM
I disagree completely.

Mike Leake is a perfect example. Most people here agree he's got terrific stuff. You look at 5.9 K/9 and you would wonder how anyone thinks that. But his 7.6 SS% sheds a new light on that subject.

What's also needed to shed light on a metric is baselines. In this case, where does the value fall relative to major league average? For instance, Leake's K rate of 5.9 was well below the major league average of 6.9 for all major league starting pitchers. Looking at his SS% of 7.6, his ability to miss bats was also well below the major average of 8.5% (he looks even a little worse when only looking at NL pitchers because they get to pitch to Harang rather than a DH).

Rather than necessarily adding a great deal of insight, I think both the more global and the more granular metric take one to the same point which is as mth123 suggested that while Leake might have alot of movement, his stuff didn't translate into make em miss ability-he looks alot like Arroyo lite at this young point in his career.

Brutus
10-03-2010, 05:14 PM
What's also needed to shed light on a metric is baselines. In this case, where does the value fall relative to major league average? For instance, Leake's K rate of 5.9 was well below the major league average of 6.9 for all major league starting pitchers. Looking at his SS% of 7.6, his ability to miss bats was also well below the major average of 8.5% (he looks even a little worse when only looking at NL pitchers because they get to pitch to Harang rather than a DH).

Rather than necessarily adding a great deal of insight, I think both the more global and the more granular metric take one to the same point which is as mth123 suggested that while Leake might have alot of movement, his stuff didn't translate into make em miss ability-he looks alot like Arroyo lite at this young point in his career.

All good points. However, I don't agree with the Arroyo comp. Arroyo doesn't have a ton of movement on his fastball (Leake does) and is more of a flyball pitcher. Leake is a groundball pitcher.

I made the comparison early this year that Leake reminds me a lot of Greg Maddux in the movement and the way he works the zone.

I made that comment here (http://www.redszone.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2068012&highlight=leake+maddux#post2068012), back in April, even before I had looked at the stats closely.


Honestly, as crazy as it is to say, I see a lot of Greg Maddux in this kid. He goes about his business, is smaller in stature, has a lot of movement on his pitches - especially to right-handed hitters and throws a heavy ball. He doesn't have the pinpoint accuracy of Maddux (though few do), but his command for his age, despite being squeezed a great deal early on by the umpires, is pretty impressive.

As I said there, he doesn't have the Maddux pinpoint control (though few do), but what's interesting is that Maddux didn't either, early in his career. In fact, if people look at Leake's season and compare it with Maddux in 1987--155 innings with the Cubs, their peripherals are pretty similar (though GB% wasn't available yet for Maddux, at least on Fangraphs though I know PBP data is available for that year).

I'm not saying Leake will turn in the career Maddux had, but he has a lot of the same traits that allowed Maddux to be successful. And I truly believe, like Maddux, he could miss many more bats if that were his M.O. However, I think his approach will allow him to be a better overall pitcher this way.

Maddux (1987) vs. Leake (2010)

(note: Maddux pitched 30 innings in 1986, but 1987 was his first full season, or near full season as he pitched 155 innings)

IP

Maddux 155.2
Leake 138.1

ERA

Maddux 5.61
Leake 4.23

FIP

Maddux 4.50
Leake 4.68

K/9

Maddux 5.84
Leake 5.92

BB/9

Maddux 4.28
Leake 3.19

HR/9

Maddux 0.98
Leake 1.24

GB/FB

Maddux 1.50 (estimate as B-REF didn't have this year for some reason)
Leake 1.58

BABIP

Maddux .327
Leake .317

K%

Maddux 14.4%
Leake 15.0%

XBH%

Maddux 8.3%
Leake 8.0%

SOURCES: Fangraphs & Baseball-Reference

I know this sounds too much like I'm predicting Leake will be a Hall of Famer, but I think comparing him to Arroyo might be underselling just how good some of his pitches are. He's got the kind of moxy, command and lateral movement that will make him very tough to hit in the future.

RedsManRick
10-03-2010, 05:42 PM
Brutus, how many other players could you say that about? Here's a list of players age 22 or 23, with a BB/9 between 3.0 & 3.5, K/9 between 5.0 & 6.0 and HR/9 between 1.0 and 1.5 and a minimum of 120 IP.



Year Tm Player BB/9 SO/9 HR IP
2010 CIN Mike Leake 3.2 5.9 1.2 138.1
2003 CHW Jon Garland 3.5 5.1 1.3 191.2
1997 KCR Jose Rosado 3.2 5.7 1.2 203.1
1995 DET Felipe Lira 3.4 5.5 1.0 146.1
1987 CAL Willie Fraser 3.2 5.4 1.3 176.2
1982 MIN Brad Havens 3.5 5.6 1.4 208.2
1969 OAK Catfish Hunter 3.1 5.5 1.2 247.0
1965 BOS Jim Lonborg 3.2 5.5 1.0 185.1
1964 WSA Buster Narum 3.3 5.5 1.4 199.0
1962 BAL Milt Pappas 3.3 5.7 1.4 205.1

Maybe he's the next Maddux. There are indeed some nice pitchers on that list. But there's also some not so great ones. The real point is that this list is comprised of a wide variety of "stuff". These basic numbers, perhaps to your point above, don't really tell us much about what kind of stuff a guy has. But they do give us some insight in to how effective they are with the stuff they have.

I like the Maddux comp. He sort of reminds me of Maddux too. But it's sort of like saying a guy who hits 20 HR at age 23 is the next Hank Aaron. Is he gonna be a decent player? Probably. But it's a pretty rough comp and ignores a whole lot of other comps that aren't nearly as sexy.

To the best of our ability to project what Mike Leake is going to become, Jon Garland or Bronson Arroyo is a lot more likely than Greg Maddux.

mth123
10-03-2010, 05:43 PM
Brutus, you've jumped the shark as they say. If Leake replicates Arroyo's career, he'll be a huge success. No way its underselling him. You have a point about the FB/GB thing, but Leake gave up a lot of HR anyway. Extreme GB pitching isn't really an indicator of success anyway. For every good one there are dozens of Kirk Saarlooses (Saarli??) who don't have the stuff to keep it in the park when they miss. Leake's HR rate looks a lot like that once the first time around the league advantage wore off. And HR were absolutely his problem in June, July and August.

Brutus
10-03-2010, 05:54 PM
Brutus, how many other players could you say that about? Here's a list of players age 22 or 23, with a BB/9 between 3.0 & 3.5, K/9 between 5.0 & 6.0 and HR/9 between 1.0 and 1.5.



Year Tm Player BB/9 SO/9 HR IP
2010 CIN Mike Leake 3.2 5.9 1.2 138.1
2003 CHW Jon Garland 3.5 5.1 1.3 191.2
1997 KCR Jose Rosado 3.2 5.7 1.2 203.1
1995 DET Felipe Lira 3.4 5.5 1.0 146.1
1987 CAL Willie Fraser 3.2 5.4 1.3 176.2
1982 MIN Brad Havens 3.5 5.6 1.4 208.2
1969 OAK Catfish Hunter 3.1 5.5 1.2 247.0
1965 BOS Jim Lonborg 3.2 5.5 1.0 185.1
1964 WSA Buster Narum 3.3 5.5 1.4 199.0
1962 BAL Milt Pappas 3.3 5.7 1.4 205.1

Maybe he's the next Maddux. There are indeed some nice pitchers on that list. But there's also some not so great ones. The real point is that this list is comprised of a wide variety of "stuff". These basic numbers, perhaps to your point above, don't really tell us much about what kind of stuff a guy has. But they do give us some insight in to how effective they are with the stuff they have.

I like the Maddux comp. He sort of reminds me of Maddux too. But it's sort of like saying a guy who hits 20 HR at age 23 is the next Hank Aaron. Is he gonna be a decent player? Probably. But it's a pretty rough comp and ignores a whole lot of other comps that aren't nearly as sexy.

To the best of our ability to project what Mike Leake is going to become, Jon Garland or Bronson Arroyo is a lot more likely than Greg Maddux.

Yeah I'm not saying he'll be Maddux. But what I'm saying is that he had a start similar to that of Maddux, and no one expected Maddux to be - Maddux.

But I truly believe Leake has the ability to be a very, very good pitcher. I don't think his numbers do him justice as to how good he can be. Don't get me wrong, he'll never likely strike out 9/9. But the walk rates, groundball rates, home run rates, etc., I think he's going to be a tremendous pitcher for the next 10 years.

Other than pitching to contact, I don't see a lot of Arroyo in him (if you ignore the similar hair and young Bronson face). They're on two extremes with regards to hit ball types. And to me, that's why I think Leake will have a real good career and is what separates him from being someone like Arroyo -- good command, throws strikes, doesn't miss many bats and throws a lot of innings.

I'm not devaluing those traits for Arroyo, but I think Leake will have the type of performances to win games for the Reds (or whomever he's pitching) and not just go out and keep his team in the games.

RedsManRick
10-03-2010, 05:56 PM
Fair enough, Brutus. I see somebody who looks a lot like Jon Garland. That's a solid arm in your rotation, but nobody to write home about. I guess time will tell.

Brutus
10-03-2010, 06:04 PM
Brutus, you've jumped the shark as they say. If Leake replicates Arroyo's career, he'll be a huge success. No way its underselling him. You have a point about the FB/GB thing, but Leake gave up a lot of HR anyway. Extreme GB pitching isn't really an indicator of success anyway. For every good one there are dozens of Kirk Saarlooses (Saarli??) who don't have the stuff to keep it in the park when they miss. Leake's HR rate looks a lot like that once the first time around the league advantage wore off. And HR were absolutely his problem in June, July and August.

Arroyo is a back-rotation starter that is dependable and throws a lot of slightly above-average innings. I find nothing wrong with that.

But I also think it's underselling a No. 1 pick if we're expecting a trajectory of Arroyo's. That will be an acceptable result if that's all he becomes, given the flame-out rate of pitchers (and high picks period).

GB% is absolutely an indicator of success. How many guys between 2-3/1 GB rates do you see that aren't successful as starting pitchers? It's a huge advantage. It's a simple numbers game, really. There's not a ton of ability to control HR/FB rates above or below 9-13%. A few guys can do it, but generally if you give up flyballs, you don't have a ton of control whether they go for home runs.

So a guy like Leake that can avoid flyballs to begin with will automatically have a much greater chance of success, because he'll likely avoid homers. That's why Arroyo is so scary sometimes, because he gives up a lot of flyballs and thereby he'll give up more homers.

Arroyo gives up, on average, 40% of his batted balls are flyballs. Ten percent of those leave the yard.

Since HR/FB rates generally are similar from pitcher-to-pitcher, if Leake can sustain 31% flyball rate (as he did this year), that's one fewer homer he'll give up for every 10 flyballs over the course of a season. Over 600 balls put into play, that could be as much as 6-8 homers difference. But Leake likely will have a better strikeout rate than Arroyo as well, so you start seeing an exponential effect.

I think the homers you saw late in the year were a combination of wearing down, hitters getting a book on him, and Leake (as he admitted he was doing) throwing too many strikes. Once he adjusts to the hitters, he'll get those rates back down again.

mth123
10-03-2010, 06:05 PM
Don't look now, but after his initial first time around the league success, Leake gave up 15 HR in 72.1 IP. If he becomes an inning eater of Arroyo's stature, that translates to about 45 HR per year. GB rates mean nothing when giving up dingers at that rate. I think he'll get better. He'll be league average or slightly better, take the ball, eat innings and give up 30ish HR because he doesn't have the stuff to get away with a mistake.

As for the winning versus keeping the team in the game remark, Arroyo has won 47 games over the last three years (two of those on putrid teams). If Leake "keeps the team in the game" like that he'll be a huge sucess.

Brutus
10-03-2010, 06:10 PM
Don't look now, but after his initial first time around the league success, Leake gave up 15 HR in 72.1 IP. If he becomes an inning eater of Arroyo's stature, that translates to about 45 HR per year. GB rates mean nothing when giving up dingers at that rate. I think he'll get better. He'll be league average or slightly better, take the ball, eat innings and give up 30ish HR because he doesn't have the stuff to get away with a mistake.

As for the winning versus keeping the team in the game remark, Arroyo has won 47 games over the last three years (two of those on putrid teams). If Leake "keeps the team in the game" like that he'll be a huge sucess.

It won't work like that though. Those 15 homers in 72 innings are no more sustainable to Leake's rates than his 4 homers in the previous 66 innings.

And if he sustains a 1.5 GB/FB ratio, I promise you that he will not give up homers at that pace. There's a lot of data to back that up. And when it does happen, it's the very isolated exception, and usually regresses back to normal.

His stuff and pitching style is why he won't give up the homers. You're arguing he'll give up homers because he doesn't have the stuff to get away with mistakes. I'm arguing he has the stuff to avoid the mistakes, which is why he won't give up the homers.

I'll be shocked - shocked if his HR/9 rate is above 1-1.15 next year.

mth123
10-03-2010, 06:14 PM
It won't work like that though. Those 15 homers in 72 innings are no more sustainable to Leake's rates than his 4 homers in the previous 66 innings.

And if he sustains a 1.5 GB/FB ratio, I promise you that he will not give up homers at that pace. There's a lot of data to back that up. And when it does happen, it's the very isolated exception, and usually regresses back to normal.

His stuff and pitching style is why he won't give up the homers. You're arguing he'll give up homers because he doesn't have the stuff to get away with mistakes. I'm arguing he has the stuff to avoid the mistakes, which is why he won't give up the homers.

I'll be shocked - shocked if his HR/9 rate is above 1-1.15 next year.

At 210 IP (a typical Arroyo season), a 1.15 HR Rate translates to 26 HR. 30ish as I said.

jojo
10-03-2010, 06:16 PM
All good points. However, I don't agree with the Arroyo comp. Arroyo doesn't have a ton of movement on his fastball (Leake does) and is more of a flyball pitcher. Leake is a groundball pitcher.

I think the Arroyo comp is a good one in the sense that he doesn't miss bats, will likely have above average command and uses a lot of movement to ultimately eat innings as an average to slightly above average starter in his prime. That's Arroyo even if they're arsenals are different. BTW, Arroyo's fastball is a set up pitch.

I think the two things that are going to improve with Leake are his command and number of innings. He's probably never going to have above average make 'em miss ability against major league hitters. But if he can get his BB/9 below 2.5 with a Krate of 6, he'll provide alot of surplus value while the Reds control him.

Brutus
10-03-2010, 06:26 PM
At 210 IP (a typical Arroyo season), a 1.15 HR Rate translates to 26 HR. 30ish as I said.

Well, true.

But to be perfectly frank, if Leake continues a 1.5 GB/FB rate or better, he won't come anywhere near that number.

The average HR/9 this year in MLB is 1.0. That's with the average GB/FB rate at 1.23

In 2009, it was HR/9 of 1.0 with a GB/FB of 1.19
In 2008, it was HR/9 of 1.0 with a GB/FB of 1.21
In 2007, it was HR/9 of 1.0 with a GB/FB of 1.21
In 2006, it was HR/9 of 1.1 with a GB/FB of 1.21

So as you can probably see by now, these things have an amazing consistency to them.

If Mike Leake can sustain his 1.56 GB/FB ratio going forward, and continue to be an extreme GB pitcher, the odds are tremendously in his favor of being an 0.7-0.9 HR/9 type of pitcher.

And that would keep him around 16-20 homers allowed over the course of a season.

Scrap Irony
10-03-2010, 06:32 PM
That assumes he can control his stuff, something he has problems doing. The movement on his pitches makes him hard to hit, but it also interferes with his ability to throw strikes.

If he can get his K:BB ratio down to Arroyo-like levels, he's very likely going to be at least as good as Arroyo, per inning. More than likely, he's going to be better (assuming his GB rate and defense stay in the upper echelon of the league and his K rate doesn't plummet). The trick is to throw as many innings.

mth123
10-03-2010, 06:39 PM
Well, true.

But to be perfectly frank, if Leake continues a 1.5 GB/FB rate or better, he won't come anywhere near that number.

The average HR/9 this year in MLB is 1.0. That's with the average GB/FB rate at 1.23

In 2009, it was HR/9 of 1.0 with a GB/FB of 1.19
In 2008, it was HR/9 of 1.0 with a GB/FB of 1.21
In 2007, it was HR/9 of 1.0 with a GB/FB of 1.21
In 2006, it was HR/9 of 1.1 with a GB/FB of 1.21

So as you can probably see by now, these things have an amazing consistency to them.

If Mike Leake can sustain his 1.56 GB/FB ratio going forward, and continue to be an extreme GB pitcher, the odds are tremendously in his favor of being an 0.7-0.9 HR/9 type of pitcher.

And that would keep him around 16-20 homers allowed over the course of a season.

We'll see. I'm not a big supporter of assigning the macro results to the micro level. Those numbers are averages of a diverse set of outcomes. IMO, Leake's April and May were completely irrelevent to what he'll become. He was not only a guy who was new to the league, but a guy that no one on any team had even faced in the minors. Once the word was out, he was a guy who gave up an alarming number of HR and IMO that is the more realistic starting point for Leake. I'd be thrilled if you turn out to be right, but heck, I'll be thrilled if he turns out to be Arroyo or, as Rick mentions, Jon Garland. That is a pretty solid career for any player no matter which round he's from. Expecting more than that is naive IMO.

TheNext44
10-03-2010, 06:44 PM
I think the Arroyo comp is a good one in the sense that he doesn't miss bats, will likely have above average command and uses a lot of movement to ultimately eat innings as an average to slightly above average starter in his prime. That's Arroyo even if they're arsenals are different. BTW, Arroyo's fastball is a set up pitch.

I think the two things that are going to improve with Leake are his command and number of innings. He's probably never going to have above average make 'em miss ability against major league hitters. But if he can get his BB/9 below 2.5 with a Krate of 6, he'll provide alot of surplus value while the Reds control him.

You hit on an excellent point that is being missed here.

Given that Leake's 2010 season is based on his first professional season, never having pitched a full season and never facing professional hitters, in professional parks before, I don't think his stats have much predictive power. How many starting pitchers' first season told us how their career's would go? Now add the extraordinary nature of Leake's first season, and it makes it even tougher.

Leake could end up like Maddox, Arroyo, Josh Fogg, or Ramon Ramirez, there's too much we don't know right now to make any solid conclusions or even educated guesses. I will say, that given his pitching and baseball acumen, I would guess he's probably going to get better, not worse, but even that is just a guess.

I also want to say that if he provides the same production over the next 5 seasons that Arroyo has provided over the last 5 seasons, I would be ecstatic. 15 wins a year and an ERA+ of 111 while never missing a start would be more than I hoped for.

mth123
10-03-2010, 06:46 PM
You hit on an excellent point that is being missed here.

Given that Leake's 2010 season is based on his first professional season, never having pitched a full season and never facing professional hitters, in professional parks before, I don't think his stats have much predictive power. How many starting pitchers' first season told us how their career's would go? Now add the extraordinary nature of Leake's first season, and it makes it even tougher.

Leake could end up like Maddox, Arroyo, Josh Fogg, or Ramon Ramirez, there's too much we don't know right now to make any solid conclusions or even educated guesses. I will say, that given his pitching and baseball acumen, I would guess he's probably going to get better, not worse, but even that is just a guess.

I also want to say that if he provides the same production over the next 5 seasons that Arroyo has provided over the last 5 seasons, I would be ecstatic. 15 wins a year and an ERA+ of 111 while never missing a start would be more than I hoped for.

:thumbup:

Brutus
10-03-2010, 07:13 PM
We'll see. I'm not a big supporter of assigning the macro results to the micro level. Those numbers are averages of a diverse set of outcomes. IMO, Leake's April and May were completely irrelevent to what he'll become. He was not only a guy who was new to the league, but a guy that no one on any team had even faced in the minors. Once the word was out, he was a guy who gave up an alarming number of HR and IMO that is the more realistic starting point for Leake. I'd be thrilled if you turn out to be right, but heck, I'll be thrilled if he turns out to be Arroyo or, as Rick mentions, Jon Garland. That is a pretty solid career for any player no matter which round he's from. Expecting more than that is naive IMO.

But numerous studies have been done to support the above numbers. What I showed you was just quick and dirty averages. But the samples themselves have a high correlation on the micro level, with pretty tight deviation.

There will always be outliers, and I won't say that it's a guarantee a groundball pitcher can't give up home runs. But the odds are very much decreased for guys that don't give up many balls in the air.

I don't think it's very "naive" to expect more than Garland. Half the guys on Rick's list turned in very good careers. Is really "naive" to think a first round pick, 23 years old, who just had a solid season without ever throwing a professional pitch previously, and has great movement, would wind up having a great career? How naive is that, really? To me, I think it's a sound expectation.

Now, to test this, I went to fangraphs and downloaded all players with at least 80 innings this year. There are 168 of them in the majors.

Of those 168, 41 of them (Leake included), had a GB/FB rate of at least 1.5.
Fangraphs: IP=80+, sorted by GB/FB (http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=pit&lg=all&qual=80&type=2&season=2010&month=0)

Of those 41 pitchers, only 7 had HR/9 rates above 1.0. Leake was one of them. In fact, only one pitcher with a better GB/FB rate than Leake had an average over 1.0 HR/9.

Of those 41 pitchers, the average HR/9 rate was 0.79.

So this doesn't just exist on the macro, but the micro as well. This is just a quick & dirty sample. Much bigger studies have shown that this is common in years worth of data.

mth123
10-03-2010, 07:42 PM
But numerous studies have been done to support the above numbers. What I showed you was just quick and dirty averages. But the samples themselves have a high correlation on the micro level, with pretty tight deviation.

There will always be outliers, and I won't say that it's a guarantee a groundball pitcher can't give up home runs. But the odds are very much decreased for guys that don't give up many balls in the air.

I don't think it's very "naive" to expect more than Garland. Half the guys on Rick's list turned in very good careers. Is really "naive" to think a first round pick, 23 years old, who just had a solid season without ever throwing a professional pitch previously, and has great movement, would wind up having a great career? How naive is that, really? To me, I think it's a sound expectation.

Now, to test this, I went to fangraphs and downloaded all players with at least 80 innings this year. There are 168 of them in the majors.

Of those 168, 41 of them (Leake included), had a GB/FB rate of at least 1.5.
Fangraphs: IP=80+, sorted by GB/FB (http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=pit&lg=all&qual=80&type=2&season=2010&month=0)

Of those 41 pitchers, only 7 had HR/9 rates above 1.0. Leake was one of them. In fact, only one pitcher with a better GB/FB rate than Leake had an average over 1.0 HR/9.

Of those 41 pitchers, the average HR/9 rate was 0.79.

So this doesn't just exist on the macro, but the micro as well. This is just a quick & dirty sample. Much bigger studies have shown that this is common in years worth of data.

I've never bought into the fact that other players with similarities do is a predicter to what a certain individual will do. I watched Leake give up a bunch of HR in June, July and August. I do think he'll improve which is why I don't expect him to give up 45 HR per year, but I've seen a lot of first rounders with a fast track to the big leagues fade to nothing and a lot of GB guys who give up a lot of HR and don't stick around long enough to alter those macro results. I think Leake has the stuff to be an inning eating 15 game winner with above league average results. Do you really think it reasonable to expect more?

BTW, in June, July and August after the league adjusted, Leake gave up 135 FB to 125 GB. Looks like Arroyo.

jojo
10-03-2010, 07:51 PM
I haven't had time to go granular and track Leake's movement throughout the season but his HR/9 got progressively worse after May. Maybe the league adjusted but if he was getting a tired arm he might also have been losing movement and location which would also lead to more homers. The second possibility would speak to a different likely outcome going forward.

mth123
10-03-2010, 07:58 PM
I haven't had time to go granular and track Leake's movement throughout the season but his HR/9 got progressively worse after May. Maybe the league adjusted but if he was getting a tired arm he might also have been losing movement and location which would also lead to more homers. The second possibility would speak to a different likely outcome going forward.

I think that contributed. Leake threw 142 innings in college in 2009 so hitting the wall at about the 75 IP point seems like it can't explain everything. I do think the transition to pitching every 5th day from once per week may have taken a toll and I do think as he builds endurance he'll improve so on some level I guess I'm in agreement.

But there is a clear element of the league figuring him out as well which would also negate the Cy Young performance he gave in April and May. Expecting something in the middle is reasonable. He won't be the Maddux of April and May, but he's probably a lot better than the Saarloos of June, July and August. Priority number 1 should be to build that endurance. Its why I think he should spend 2011 in AAA unless the guys in front of him go down.

Brutus
10-03-2010, 08:12 PM
I've never bought into the fact that other players with similarities do is a predicter to what a certain individual will do. I watched Leake give up a bunch of HR in June, July and August. I do think he'll improve which is why I don't expect him to give up 45 HR per year, but I've seen a lot of first rounders with a fast track to the big leagues fade to nothing and a lot of GB guys who give up a lot of HR and don't stick around long enough to alter those macro results. I think Leake has the stuff to be an inning eating 15 game winner with above league average results. Do you really think it reasonable to expect more?

BTW, in June, July and August after the league adjusted, Leake gave up 135 FB to 125 GB. Looks like Arroyo.

Well, it just feels like you've never bought into it because you don't necessarily want to buy into it. My guess, and if I'm wrong you can absolutely correct me, is that it feels too robotic a notion to accept, that pitchers are more cookie-cutter if something is so predictive. But there is a mountain of evidence that when it comes to surrendering home runs, GB/FB rate is a gigantic predictor of it. I've shown it both on the macro, and to respond to a fair point, the micro. Now it's that the micro population hasn't been affected because guys that fit that extreme never made it.

Who are some of these GB guys you speak of that didn't stick around? If you wouldn't mind citing some examples, I would be open to listening. I tend to think there aren't any examples that come to mind, but since there isn't any data to support that particular conclusion, it's just a brush-off comment.

If there are examples that you can cite, my hunch is that they didn't make it because of poor command or the inability to miss any bats. Leake hovered around average this year with regard to strikeout rate, which is perfectly acceptable when you stay below the average walk rate and induce a lot of grounders. So to answer your last question, is it really reasonable to expect more of a 23-year old true rookie? Absolutely.

What's interesting is that you're not buying into the concept of increased GB/FB equals decreased HR/9, but yet you're pointing out that Leake gave up more homers in the second half of the season at a time when his GB/FB got much worse. So inadvertently, you're showing exactly what I'm suggesting: if he keeps his GB/FB down, the homers will stay down.

If what he did in July & August is any indication of what he'll be, then absolutely I think he'll be a lot like Arroyo. But looking at the entire season, it appears his groundball tendencies will make him much better, especially if his strikeout rates improve a bit (and it's not unreasonable to think he could wind up getting as high as 7/9. He did, after all, strikeout over 10/9 his junior season in a pretty tough collegiate baseball league.

mth123
10-03-2010, 08:39 PM
Well, it just feels like you've never bought into it because you don't necessarily want to buy into it. My guess, and if I'm wrong you can absolutely correct me, is that it feels too robotic a notion to accept, that pitchers are more cookie-cutter if something is so predictive. But there is a mountain of evidence that when it comes to surrendering home runs, GB/FB rate is a gigantic predictor of it. I've shown it both on the macro, and to respond to a fair point, the micro. Now it's that the micro population hasn't been affected because guys that fit that extreme never made it.

Who are some of these GB guys you speak of that didn't stick around? If you wouldn't mind citing some examples, I would be open to listening. I tend to think there aren't any examples that come to mind, but since there isn't any data to support that particular conclusion, it's just a brush-off comment.

If there are examples that you can cite, my hunch is that they didn't make it because of poor command or the inability to miss any bats. Leake hovered around average this year with regard to strikeout rate, which is perfectly acceptable when you stay below the average walk rate and induce a lot of grounders. So to answer your last question, is it really reasonable to expect more of a 23-year old true rookie? Absolutely.

What's interesting is that you're not buying into the concept of increased GB/FB equals decreased HR/9, but yet you're pointing out that Leake gave up more homers in the second half of the season at a time when his GB/FB got much worse. So inadvertently, you're showing exactly what I'm suggesting: if he keeps his GB/FB down, the homers will stay down.

If what he did in July & August is any indication of what he'll be, then absolutely I think he'll be a lot like Arroyo. But looking at the entire season, it appears his groundball tendencies will make him much better, especially if his strikeout rates improve a bit (and it's not unreasonable to think he could wind up getting as high as 7/9. He did, after all, strikeout over 10/9 his junior season in a pretty tough collegiate baseball league.

Well, you've certainly twisted things, You made the claim that since Leake was a GB pitcher it was selling him short to say a career like Arroyo's would be a success. I can think of a lot of GB pitchers that would kill to be as successful as Arroyo has been. If you want a name of a guy who was terrible as a GB pitcher, I'll start with Kirk Saarloos. Kip Wells is a GB guy. Glendon Rusch? Jimmy Haynes? Yet your claim is since Leake is a GB guy he must be better than Arroyo. Problem with that logic is that when guys aren't getting GB, they get tattooed. I guess from that standpoint I do agree, if they can actually keep it on the ground it will certainly limit HR. Problem is that many have trouble sustaining it, just like Leake did in 2010. I don't think having a GB profile means as much as you do and I've just provided 4 quick examples of some real turds off the top of my head. So far you've got Maddux (who was also a much better K and BB guy than Leake will ever be).

RedsManRick
10-03-2010, 09:05 PM
FWIW, I just ran a quick linear regression on GB/FB & HR/9 for guys with a min of 100 IP.

Formula: -.33x + 1.38
Correlation: 0.18 (r=.42)

There's certainly a correlation there, but there's quite a bit of spread too. I'd post the plot if I knew how to do so on my Mac.

His predicted HR/9 based on his GB/FB is 0.86. But I'd want to look at a multi-year sample to see just how predictive GB/FB is and what kind of SDs we see.

Brutus
10-03-2010, 09:47 PM
Well, you've certainly twisted things, You made the claim that since Leake was a GB pitcher it was selling him short to say a career like Arroyo's would be a success. I can think of a lot of GB pitchers that would kill to be as successful as Arroyo has been. If you want a name of a guy who was terrible as a GB pitcher, I'll start with Kirk Saarloos. Kip Wells is a GB guy. Glendon Rusch? Jimmy Haynes? Yet your claim is since Leake is a GB guy he must be better than Arroyo. Problem with that logic is that when guys aren't getting GB, they get tattooed. I guess from that standpoint I do agree, if they can actually keep it on the ground it will certainly limit HR. Problem is that many have trouble sustaining it, just like Leake did in 2010. I don't think having a GB profile means as much as you do and I've just provided 4 quick examples of some real turds off the top of my head. So far you've got Maddux (who was also a much better K and BB guy than Leake will ever be).

First, let me clarify, I'm not at all saying that it's selling Leake short to compare him to Arroyo just because he's a GB pitcher. I'm saying that in addition to having good command, good movement, the potential to increase his strikeouts, etc., that also being a GB pitcher helps him to have a much higher ceiling than that of Arroyo.

As far as your examples, Kip Wells is a solid example. He has had a good number of grounders in his career. His biggest problem was that he had poor command of the strike zone. His career walk rate is 4.25/9. But his HR/9 is 1.00.

Saarloos is on the extreme end in that when he wasn't getting grounders he certainly wasn't getting guys out by a strikeout. Where he was in the mid 80's, Leake can throw into the low to mid 90's with great movement. Saarloos struck out, in 509 career innings, 4.44/9.

Glendon Rusch was an average pitcher with regard to GB. His career rate was 1.17. Good pitcher though. Solid peripherals with a career FIP in the low 4's.

Jimmy Haynes, see Wells. Plagued by a high walk total.

In any event, I appreciate you giving a few examples. I guess Saarloos and Wells were both victims of having either control or the ability to strike guys out, but not both. Leake seems to have just enough ability to miss bats, while having good control. If he lacked one or the other on the extreme end, it would be problematic. Pitchers who don't miss bats as often have a smaller margin for error, but if you have an average k-rate, with above average command and above-average groundball tendencies, I think you're in very good shape.

One last point about Maddux... do you realize his CAREER k/9 was 6.06? Leake was almost that in his first professional season spent in the big leagues. I don't think it's at all a stretch to say Leake will likely finish his career with higher than 6.06. In fact, I'd almost wager that with anyone that wanted to.

By the same token, Maddux also finished with a career 1.80 walk rate. Now I agree it's highly unlikely Leake will be able to match that. But if Leake is a 6.5/2.5 pitcher with a 1.5 or better GB/FB rate... he's going to have an awfully good career.

Scrap Irony
10-03-2010, 10:08 PM
Leake's BB/9 for 2010 was 3.2. He'd have to significantly improve that for him to develop into a really solid pitcher.

The good news is that, in college, he was known for his control.

mth123
10-03-2010, 10:10 PM
First, let me clarify, I'm not at all saying that it's selling Leake short to compare him to Arroyo just because he's a GB pitcher. I'm saying that in addition to having good command, good movement, the potential to increase his strikeouts, etc., that also being a GB pitcher helps him to have a much higher ceiling than that of Arroyo.

As far as your examples, Kip Wells is a solid example. He has had a good number of grounders in his career. His biggest problem was that he had poor command of the strike zone. His career walk rate is 4.25/9. But his HR/9 is 1.00.

Saarloos is on the extreme end in that when he wasn't getting grounders he certainly wasn't getting guys out by a strikeout. Where he was in the mid 80's, Leake can throw into the low to mid 90's with great movement. Saarloos struck out, in 509 career innings, 4.44/9.

Glendon Rusch was an average pitcher with regard to GB. His career rate was 1.17. Good pitcher though. Solid peripherals with a career FIP in the low 4's.

Jimmy Haynes, see Wells. Plagued by a high walk total.

In any event, I appreciate you giving a few examples. I guess Saarloos and Wells were both victims of having either control or the ability to strike guys out, but not both. Leake seems to have just enough ability to miss bats, while having good control. If he lacked one or the other on the extreme end, it would be problematic. Pitchers who don't miss bats as often have a smaller margin for error, but if you have an average k-rate, with above average command and above-average groundball tendencies, I think you're in very good shape.

One last point about Maddux... do you realize his CAREER k/9 was 6.06? Leake was almost that in his first professional season spent in the big leagues. I don't think it's at all a stretch to say Leake will likely finish his career with higher than 6.06. In fact, I'd almost wager that with anyone that wanted to.

By the same token, Maddux also finished with a career 1.80 walk rate. Now I agree it's highly unlikely Leake will be able to match that. But if Leake is a 6.5/2.5 pitcher with a 1.5 or better GB/FB rate... he's going to have an awfully good career.

And you do realize that Arroyo's career k/9 is 6.01, his BB/9 is 2.73 and his HR/9 is 1.13. Practically the same numbers you are projecting on Leake while claiming having an Arroyo type projection would be selling him short.

Brutus
10-03-2010, 11:23 PM
And you do realize that Arroyo's career k/9 is 6.01, his BB/9 is 2.73 and his HR/9 is 1.13. Practically the same numbers you are projecting on Leake while claiming having an Arroyo type projection would be selling him short.

Well, the Reds haven't always gotten the career averages Bronson has had though. His HR rate has not been that low in any season with the Reds, and 2009 & 2010 Bronson has seen his strikeout rate drop to low 5's.

But yeah, those rates are still somewhat similar to the bottom rung projections I have for Leake, except I anticipate a better HR rate by nearly a quarter of a homer per nine, which an have a pretty big effect by the end of the season.

But let's use those bottom rung projections I mentioned for Leake: 6.5/2.5/0.8 as an example versus the career of Arroyo 6.0/2.7/1.1. In 200 innings, that amounts to:

Leake: 144 Ks, 56 walks and 18 homers, or a 3.67 FIP
Arroyo: 133 Ks, 60 walks and 24 homers or a 4.23 FIP

That's still over half a run difference between the two. The difference increases slightly more if we extend it out to 220 innings.

So yeah, I mean at first glance, it's not drastically different, but it adds up. And as mentioned, the Reds haven't really gotten that Bronson. He was working in the upper 6's a few years ago as far as strikeouts, but his HR rate has been above 1.2 the past four seasons. His FIP has been between 4.50 and 4.80 in those four years.

The Leake projections I'm talking about, even the ones we discussed above, put him below 3.70.

Brutus
10-03-2010, 11:26 PM
Leake's BB/9 for 2010 was 3.2. He'd have to significantly improve that for him to develop into a really solid pitcher.

The good news is that, in college, he was known for his control.

Even at 3.2, that's a hair better than the Major League average, which is just over 3.3.

I do agree, though, that to maximize his potential, especially for my own expectations of him, he'll have to do better. But this year I really, really felt his walk rates were a matter of choice than anything. I think, if he wants, he can work in the low to mid 2's. It's a matter of balancing that but still maintaining production within the zone.